Episode 008: Pain! Heartbroken Fury
Episode 008: Pain! Heartbroken Fury
At Zephilia, the atmosphere was merry in the Inverse household. The group had just finished a meal and Luna conveniently suggested that Lina should help with the dishes. "You too dad," Luna added, purposely doing so before Light could resume his conversation about swords with Gourry. The blond swordsman was about to follow the majority into the kitchen with plates to be washed, but Luna took them off his hands and gave them to Lina. "The guest shouldn't do the dishes."
Lina struggled to balance a mountain of plates that was taller than her. "What about you, Luna?" She asked with guarded irritation from behind the barrier of ceramic.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of entertaining the guest," Luna offered, purposely misinterpreting Lina's comment. The younger Inverse daughter knew better than to question her sister, thus she went off to the kitchen along with her parents.
Gourry shifted uncomfortably as he felt Luna's eyes examining him critically. "Um... shouldn't we go help them?"
"I want to talk to you," Luna indicated. She moved from the dinning area to the living room and sat down on the couch, motioning for Gourry to take a seat as well.
The swordsman sat across from the knight of Ceifeed. The atmosphere was serious and tense; it was making him terribly uncomfortable. He shifted and looked into Luna's face. Her hair was in a similar style to Xellos', perhaps an inch or two longer. The bangs were noticeably longer though, enough to cover her eyes with a deep purplish crimson-curtain. He thought he saw her eyes flicker with eerie lights behind the hair, but it might have been his imagination.
"So, you want to marry my sister," Luna spoke abruptly.
Gourry sat up straight and adopted a serious expression. "Yes, ma'am," he had never felt like this before. Luna's energy was practically pulsating in the atmosphere around her.
"It would be a pity if she didn't feel the same way," Luna continued seriously.
"It's okay," Gourry took her words with optimism. "I can wait until she's ready."
Luna shook her head and tilted her face downward slightly, as if expressing pity. "What would you do if she broke up with you?"
Time felt like it stood still. Gourry had to tell himself not to stay frozen, to ask, "what makes you say that?"
"Answer my question," Luna's voice was commanding, as she was true to the title of knight of Ceifeed.
"I would..." Gourry thought about what he didn't want to think about. "I would be sad."
"And then you'd leave her side?" Luna's question was laced with a protective tone that was almost threatening.
"No," Gourry replied sincerely. "I'm Lina's protector... Although she's strong enough to protect herself, I can still help. Besides, I can protect her from other things, like being lonely or bored. I'll stay by her side, unless she tells me to leave. But even then I wouldn't go too far, so that if she calls me I'll hear and I'll be there right away."
"She's a selfish brat you know," Luna pointed out.
Gourry smiled fondly, "I know, I don't picture her to be an angel, she's a human being with flaws and virtues. She's a hot tempered loud mouth, greedy little brat, but all of that can be cute when it's on Lina. She's also brave, determined and energetic, and I..."
"You?" Luna prompted.
"I love her," Gourry finished.
Luna smiled as if this was exactly the kind of answer she was looking for. She saw the look in Lina's eyes; she knew her little sister was ready to spend her whole life with this man. She just wanted to make sure beyond a doubt that he was right for her.
Before the eldest Inverse daughter could express her support, Lina emerged from the kitchen. "Mom and dad said I didn't have to hang around doing the dishes," she excused herself with Luna.
"Very well, I'll go help them then." Luna got to her feet, she seemed rather cheerful, Lina silently noted. "Why don't you and Gourry go out for a walk?"
Lina nodded eagerly, she had to talk to Gourry in private anyway and there was no time like the present. "Let's go, Gourry!" She practically dragged him out of the house, though he opposed no resistance.
xoxox xox xoxox
After taking a nice relaxing stroll through town, waving to childhood neighbors and taking in the fresh air and peaceful atmosphere, Gourry and Lina arrived at the Zephilia park. They found a secluded spot under the shade of a large tree and sat down to talk. "There's something I've been meaning to tell you," Lina shifted somewhat nervous. She already knew what Gourry's answer would be, or at least she thought she knew, but it was still hard to communicate this.
"What is it?" Gourry smiled in a friendly and encouraging way, like he often did.
"We've been together for a long time, haven't we?" Lina asked a rhetorical question and continued before Gourry could answer it, because he didn't really know what a rhetorical question was. "Our relationship has also changed overtime," she blushed. "And I was thinking it's time for a change."
Gourry felt time stop again as a feeling of deja vu sunk into the pit of his stomach. Had Luna been trying to warn him of this? Was Lina breaking up with him? "I... I understand..." He voiced sadly.
Lina mistook his tone for being a little nervous, "really?" If he actually took the hint, which she certainly wasn't expecting, and propose, it would save her a lot of effort. "Then you agree?"
Gourry's eyes were on the green grass that covered the ground; he didn't want to look at Lina. He said he would stay by her side and he meant it, but he couldn't look at her now. Perhaps this was what heartbreak felt like. "Let's stay friends; even if we break up, I still want to be your friend." Gourry told himself to be strong as he put on a cheerful mask for Lina's sake and smiled at her.
Gourry's smile was very false and forced, but Lina was too shocked to take note of his expression as his words rung out repeatedly in her head. Pain took hold of her, extinguishing all other emotions along with her use of reason. Then came the anger. It was like a wildfire that lit up inside her and spread from the center of her body to her limbs down to the tips of her hair. Her face was red; her eyes flares with heartbroken wrath and one might have mistaken her for Ruby Eyes himself. "Get lost!" She screamed murderously.
Gourry looked like a kicked puppy. "But Lina, can't we be friends?" He whimpered sadly.
"Leave me alone! I'm sick and tired of you; I don't even know how I put up with you in the first place. You're nothing but a useless idiot who's always in my way. I never want to see you again!" Lina's shouting resounded strongly, but it was all distant to her. It was as if she was watching a tragic scene in a terrible play full of bad taste drama. But it was real, it was real and it hurt.
"Lina..." Gourry frowned, eyes reflecting a deep sorrow.
Blinded by painful fury, Lina began to chant a familiar spell, her face was haunted as if she had been possessed by something terrible, but the only thing possessing her was her own deep pain. "Darkness beyond twilight..."
Gourry gasped in disbelief, was she really attacking him? "Lina, wait!"
She continued the spell as if she couldn't hear him. "Crimson beyond blood that flows..."
Realizing that there was no way to reason with her, Gourry decided to leave for the time being. "Goodbye Lina... If you ever need me, just call, I won't be too far away." Then he ran away without looking back.
"Buried in the stream of time..." Lina's voice grew softer as Gourry disappeared in the distance, until it was a barely audible whisper. "Buried in the..." The power that she held in her hands dissipated as she lost her focus on the spell. "Buried..." She fell to her knees, hands gripping blades of grass and ripping them off the ground as abundant tears of agony flowed down her face. "Gourry..." she sobbed quietly and remained that way for she didn't know how long.
Some time later, "oh my..." A familiar, somewhat nasal, male voice accompanied the redhead's agony. "Have I arrived at a bad time?" Xellos leaned over curiously, wondering what the feast of sorrow was about. It was nutritious yes, but he didn't like sorrow much, he found its taste to be somewhat bland. He very much preferred wrath, it was spicy and delicious. Lina was usually a good source of that, but today she had fallen apart and she wasn't even responding to him. "Lina?" He had to wonder if she had even heard him. This was becoming somewhat unnerving; Lina Inverse did not fall apart easily. "Lina?" Xellos placed his hand on her shoulder and that seemed to wake her up.
With an echoing wail that would put a banshee to shame, Lina jolted to her feet, took hold of Xellos' shirt with her grass stained gloves and buried her face on his chest. Her mad wailing continued until she felt Xellos shift and her gut instinct told her he was about to say something stupid, something that would most likely further infuriate her. She was most certainly not in the mood to be teased. "Shut up and console me, useless item number four!"
"Useless?" Xellos repeated somewhat offended. Not only was he still number four on the list, but now he was a useless item rather than a useful one.
"Now!" Lina screamed into his face with such a commanding voice paired with such a murderous look that Xellos felt compelled to hug her.
"There, there, don't cry... Or at least tell me why you're crying," Xellos inquired. From the corner of his eyes he saw Gourry hidden among the shrubbery of the park several feet away.
The blond swordsman observed the scene for a moment and, when he was sure that Lina had a friend to comfort her, only then did he go on his way. He would have to thank Lina's family for their hospitality and remove himself from the scene before Lina returned home; he didn't want to make things harder for her.
xoxox xox xoxox
Gourry hurried back to the Inverse house. The dishes were finished in record breaking time, thanks to some magical creativity, and Light was out in front of the house polishing some swords. He wanted to have a little spar with Gourry in memory of his younger days as a mercenary before he settled down in Zephilia and opened the Inverse general store. "Welcome back, son. Lina's not with you? Ah, she must have gotten caught up with the neighborhood girls; she must have many stories to tell them." Then he realized that Gourry wasn't all there and a sad expression hung heavy on his face. "What's the matter?"
Frowning, Gourry hung his head, feeling as if he should be apologizing. "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't have the right to call you father anymore. Lina... Miss Inverse is... she has decided she doesn't want me by her side..."
Light was taken aback by the revelation. As far as he could tell, his younger daughter and the traveling swordsman were very close to each other, very much in love. They reminded him of himself and his wife when they were younger. "What happened?"
Gourry shook his head, "I'm not sure and maybe that's at least part of the problem. I wasn't able to please Lina; I guess I wasn't smart enough to figure out what she wanted."
Light was still shocked. He put down the swords he was working on and approached Gourry, placing a hand on his shoulder in a fatherly fashion. "Don't you do that, my boy. Don't go doubting yourself like that. I did that too, you know. I would sometimes ask myself, what can a beautiful sorceress like Labyrinthine want with a mercenary like me? And because of my doubts I pushed her feelings away for far too long. But in the end, we worked things out and here we are."
Gourry nodded, his head was too crowded with thoughts and feelings he didn't understand, so he really wasn't up to analyzing anything, not that he ever was, but this time he didn't even have his innocent optimism to fall back on. "I'll keep that in mind, thank you for everything." Though he said that, Gourry was unable to absorb the full meaning of Light's words or the hint that he was telling him to be persistent and chase after Lina.
Without another word, Gourry entered the house. Labyrinthine was arranging some fresh flowers on a vase in the living room, a vase that had been made by Filia. Luna was sitting on the couch reading an ancient looking tome. Both women looked at Gourry as he entered the living room and gave them an apologetic sounding, "excuse me," before heading towards the guest room to fetch what little luggage he carried.
Gourry headed for the front door again to find that Labyrinthine and Luna had remained as still as statues; though these particular statues strongly demanded an explanation with their eyes. "I'm sorry, but I must leave, it's best for Lina if I'm gone when she returns. She doesn't want me here anymore. I'm grateful for your kindness and hospitality; I'll always remember my visits to your home."
Labyrinthine's eyes widened, her mouth slightly agape. The crimson flower she was holding slipped out of her grasp and fell on the table beside the vase. At the same time, Luna raise an eyebrow invisible behind the thick curtain of deep purplish-crimson overgrown bangs that nearly touched her nose. Her eyes flickered again, as if they held unnatural lights, lights that demanded answers and would not accept silence.
Gourry was too sad to be afraid of the eerie atmosphere that suddenly surrounded Luna. He met the lights beneath the hair that fell over them with his own gaze and reaffirmed his earlier promise. "I'll keep my word," he assured. "I won't bother Lina, but if she calls for me, I'll be there for her." With those final noble words left hanging in the air, Gourry exited the Inverse house for what he feared would be his last visit ever to Lina's family.
xoxox xox xoxox
A little later, at the park, Lina sniffled and parted from Xellos, not caring that she dirtied his shirt with grass stains. "None of your business," she sobbed. At least it looked like she was starting to calm down. Then she caught sight of the tree she and Gourry had been sitting under. The letters GL were carved into it inside a heart, it had been something Gourry did during the last visit to Zephilia and Lina didn't want to look at it. With a fierce battle cry, she gathered fire in her hands, "fireball!" And burned the tree to ashes.
"Freeze arrow!" A rather large arrow of ice collided with the flames, becoming water and extinguishing them on contact, before the fire could spread through the park. The one who had casted the spell was none other than the knight of Ceifeed herself, Luna Inverse. "What trouble are you causing, beast priest?"
Xellos raised his hands, palms forward, in a sign of defense. "It wasn't me."
Tears had started flowing down Lina's face again after her tantrum. Gourry had been so sweet to her that day and the precious happy memory was now a tragic painful one. Who ever said that it was better to have loved and lost than to not love at all was a big liar! With such bitterness in her heart, Lina started wailing again. She turned around abruptly and ran to her sister, "Lu... Lu..." she sobbed, "Luna!" She dashed past Xellos, shoving him aside carelessly in the process and clung to her sister for consolation.
This was Luna, the sister that Lina both feared and respected, but Xellos was so bad at consoling people that Lina had to rely on Luna. "Shh... it's okay... don't cry..." Luna caressed her sister's hair gently until her wails became hiccupping sobs and she eventually calmed down. "Now," the knight of Ceifeed parted from Lina slightly to look into her red puffy eyes. "Tell me what happened."
"Gourry..." Lina whimpered, "he broke up with me."
Luna noticed the discrepancy between their versions of the event right away. "You didn't break up with him?"
Lina shook her head vigorously. "No, he broke up with me and offered to stay friends, but I yelled at him and threatened him with a Dragon Slave."
"I see..." Luna observed. From what she could perceive, there was some kind of misunderstanding going on, though the knight of Ceifeed never would have guess that she was directly linked to the root of the misunderstanding. Those had not been her intentions, she was merely protecting her little sister, making sure that the man she chose was worthy of her. Gourry had earned her approval and this turn of events was most unexpected. Yet Lina was the only one who could fix this, Lina and Gourry, it was up to them. "Perhaps you shouldn't shut him out completely. Why not accept his friendship? It might blossom into more before you know it."
Lina stubbornly shook her head. "I'm never falling in love again." She furrowed her brow and stomped her feet in determination.
Luna sighed, "if you say so," albeit it would be easier said than done.
"Ehem..." Xellos cleared his throat. "Excuse me," he had been ignored and he didn't like it. "If you're quite done with your bizarre sisterly bonding moment, I would like to speak to Lina about business."
Luna glared, "you will do no such thing." Power gathered around her, it was the energy of Ceifeed.
"Wait, Luna," Lina interjected, stepping forward between her sister and Xellos. "I kind of need this right now, a distraction. If I know Xellos, his business will be something troublesome, but I'll deal with it."
Luna ruffled Lina's hair, "don't do something I wouldn't do." Then she began to walk away, stopping after only a few steps. "And you," her eyes glowed behind her long bangs as she looked right at Xellos who, for a brief instant opened his purple eyes, "don't put Lina through unnecessary trouble."
Then the mask of cheer was back on Xellos' face as he chirped in assurance. "I would never," and smiled with false innocence.
After Luna left, Lina squared her shoulders and adopted a serious look upon her face. "What was it that you wanted to talk about, Xellos?"
Xellos grinned as he finally went down to business. "Lord Beast Master has a job for you. It involves going on another journey, but the specifics of your role were not revealed even to me. Zelas wants to speak to you in person concerning the details."
Lina didn't have a guess about what could be going on, at least not yet. "I suppose I have no choice but to hear her out. Alright, let's go."
To be Continued
Poor Lina and Gourry... D: